Imagine a place where unemployment is non-existent. Where there are no homeless. Where public transport is subsidised, and a hot meal can be purchased with an hour’s minimum wage.
Sounds too good to be true? It’s not. This place exists.
In the midst of this la-dee-dah, seemingly perfect bubble of little worries and cares, a pervasive force exercises a vice-like grip upon the seemingly unwitting (or perhaps, worse… complicit?) creatures who inhabit this realm. It may have started off as a tongue-in-cheek comment many years ago, when shopping was stated as a national pastime, but this joke has gone two steps too far, and become a reality.
Where once we sought the affordable, we now do exhaustive laps around the mall for the “cheap”. Why pay $x when we can get away with $x-1? It becomes an aggressive competition on both sides – price wars between the shops, and endless bargaining or bargain-hunting by the consumers. Is it really because we cannot afford the extra $1? NO. It’s because we get a buzz from knowing we can “get more for less”. Why? So we can get more!
We accumulate so much shit in our lives, because it’s there, because we can, because they make it so easy for us to.
We are encouraged to “grab it while stocks last”. To “enjoy the special offer”. To bulk buy. To sign packages. To put it on the card. Otherwise, the moment will pass, and we may regret it later.
We cry foul when the discourse turns to the overseas slave camps that continuously pump out all these items at the hands of “unskilled labourers“. If they’re so freakin’ unskilled, go make your own sodding dress, why don’t you? We say that the market is global, and we are not the sole consumers. As if this fact alone is sufficient to absolve us from taking a long hard look at ourselves for what we really are: gluttons.
We close one eye to domestic social inequality, claiming that we have a stellar system that works (refer to unemployment and homelessness beginning of this rant). We simply choose not to acknowledge that stark injustice still persists. Exploitation of foreign labour is very freakin’ real. The wage gap of those on the bottom rung of our service industry and those whose job description includes socialising with clients in overseas strip clubs and karaoke joints is wider than the buffet spread at some 5* hotel restaurants.
Can we seek shelter, find relief at home from this buzz of commercial activity? NO. Telemarketers ring you on a number even your own best friend does not have. It is enough to make one curl up in a tight ball of misery, and wish to wake up soon.
What is your personal idea of hell?